Articles of Interest, December 13th, 2007

The Real Teddy Bear Tragedy

By Hamza Yusuf

In all the heat generated by the teddy bear controversy in Sudan, we are missing a deeper reality: As irrational and backward as the reaction in Khartoum might seem, it is yet another example of some Muslims attempting to assert themselves and exercise a little authority in the face of the immense onslaught of Western hegemony in the region.

The facts are that Gillian Gibbons, a British teacher at a private school in Khartoum, had her 7-year-old students name a teddy bear and they overwhelmingly chose “Muhammad.” The students took turns taking the bear home and wrote a diary about what they did with it, which was compiled into a book with a picture of the bear and the title “My Name is Muhammad.” Some parents were offended and the Sudanese government responded by arresting and charging Gibbons with insulting the Prophet of Islam.

The charge is without merit, of course. But it is worth noting that for Muslims, the idea of calling any object other than a human being “Muhammad” is sacrilegious. With Jews, Muslims share a prohibition of making physical images of any living things. An exception is made for children’s toys. Calling the image of any animal Muhammad, a name that Muslims won’t utter without a benediction is, for them, beyond the pale. Turks even prefer the contraction Mehmet to avoid using the name in common circumstances. Westerners have a hard time understanding such reverence in a markedly irreverent age.

In the West, teddy bears are objects of devotion for little children and for most adults fond memories of a cuddly teddy bear endure. A child calling a teddy bear Jesus, for instance, may seem inappropriate, but would likely elicit a response of “How cute!” Westerners are dumbfounded at what appears to be an absolutely insane response to an unfortunate lack of cultural sensitivity. But so, I would venture, are most Muslims.

  • I didn’t want to beat the dead horse, but this commentary goes well beyond “teddy-gate” as it really goes into the crux of the problem. I 100% agree with Sheik Hamza Yusuf.

The Pope condemns the climate change prophets of doom

Pope Benedict XVI has launched a surprise attack on climate change prophets of doom, warning them that any solutions to global warming must be based on firm evidence and not on dubious ideology.

The leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics suggested that fears over man-made emissions melting the ice caps and causing a wave of unprecedented disasters were nothing more than scare-mongering.

The German-born Pontiff said that while some concerns may be valid it was vital that the international community based its policies on science rather than the dogma of the environmentalist movement.

His remarks will be made in his annual message for World Peace Day on January 1, but they were released as delegates from all over the world convened on the Indonesian holiday island of Bali for UN climate change talks.

The 80-year-old Pope said the world needed to care for the environment but not to the point where the welfare of animals and plants was given a greater priority than that of mankind.

  • This Pontiff is notorious for putting his foot in his mouth. I kind of get where he is going with this, but it’s all in the delivery. For the most part I get that he is warning us to be careful in our assessment and to manage and use our zeal to maximum benefit of mankind. I agree. A lot of these special interest groups have the ability to get people to act, unfortunately often the rallying is for animals and forests, which is great, but that same zeal is not directed toward mankind, a true tragedy.

Dubai court jails boy’s HIV rapist

DUBAI (CNN) — A court in Dubai sentenced two men Wednesday to 15 years in prison for the rape and kidnapping of a 15-year-old French boy.

The boy’s mother, Veronique Robert, was visibly upset after the sentence was read and promised to appeal.

Robert, a French journalist, brought the case to the media’s attention in recent months in an effort to shed light on what she deemed to be injustices in the pro-Western emirate of Dubai.

Robert said Wednesday’s sentence was too lenient for a crime that she believes is tantamount to attempted murder because one of her son’s attackers was knowingly HIV-positive at the time of the rape.

  • It’s a wonderful thing that some justice was served. It’s a shame that many of these “Muslim” countries refuse to recognize the very real realities on the ground. Hiding your face in the sand will not make things go away.

Subpoenas for Al Sharpton’s aides

Teams of federal agents swooped down on up to 10 close associates of the Rev. Al Sharpton Wednesday, demanding the flamboyant clergyman’s financial records since 2001.

Sharpton’s former chief of staff said he was roused at his Harlem home about 6:30 a.m. by two FBI agents who handed him a subpoena to bring the records to a federal grand jury the day after Christmas.

Several employees of Sharpton’s National Action Network also got wakeup subpoenas to testify before the Brooklyn panel, the rabble-rousing reverend’s lawyer said.

The FBI and IRS are investigating whether Sharpton improperly misstated the amount of money he raised during his 2004 White House run to illegally obtain federal matching funds, a source familiar with the probe said.

Sharpton, although forced to return $100,000 in matching taxpayer funds after an investigation two years ago, denied any wrongdoing at the time.

  • Well I’m certain many people are gleeful at this news. The writer of the article surely is as you can tell by his descriptive and insightful use of words to describe Rev. Al. I guess if they can get Farrakhan next, then it would truly be something!

South Koreans clone cats that glow in the dark: officials

South Korean scientists have cloned cats by manipulating a fluorescent protein gene, a procedure which could help develop treatments for human genetic diseases, officials said Wednesday. In a side-effect, the cloned cats glow in the dark when exposed to ultraviolet beams.

A team of scientists led by Kong Il-keun, a cloning expert at Gyeongsang National University, produced three cats possessing altered fluorescence protein (RFP) genes, the Ministry of Science and Technology said.

“It marked the first time in the world that cats with RFP genes have been cloned,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The ability to produce cloned cats with the manipulated genes is significant as it could be used for developing treatments for genetic diseases and for reproducing model (cloned) animals suffering from the same diseases as humans,” it added.

  • You have to admit, this is kind of freaky. There could be some advantages in this research, but we should be reminded of the seriousness of cloning. What is the threshold and who’s going to enforce it?

‘Knight Rider’ Premiere Set; Arnett to Voice KITTNBC has set Feb. 17 as the premiere date for its two-hour “Knight Rider” revamp and announced that Will Arnett (“Arrested Development”) will provide the voice of the new KITT car. NBC also has released official images of the crime-fighting super-vehicle (thankfully, NBC’s latest product placement-mobile is a Ford Mustang, not a Nissan Rogue).

The movie stars Justin Bruening (“Cold Case”), Deanna Russo (“NCIS”), Sydney Tamiia Poitier (“Grindhouse”) and Bruce Davison (“Close to Home”). Yes, David Hasselhoff will make a cameo in his original role of Michael Knight. He’s billed in the press release as a “Special Guest Star,” an ‘80s-rific term.

The new KITT car (more pics here) will have some “Transformers”-like shape-shifting abilities (the story’s scientific explanation: “nanotechnology”). Thus, three cars will be used: The “KITT Hero” (a Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR playing the “everyday Hero car”), the “KITT Attack” (a high-speed version of the Hero car) and a “KITT Remote” (a driverless version). Dave Bartis (“The O.C.”) and Doug Liman (“The Bourne Identity”) serve as executive producers.

  • I’m only watching it to see if David Hasselhoff indeed shows up and to see if they have the same theme music. 🙂

Malcolm X: The Pilgrimage to Makkah

Mecca 1964 – Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as is practiced by people of all colors and races here in this Ancient Holy Land, the home of Abraham, Muhammad and all the other Prophets of the Holy Scriptures. For the past week, I have been utterly speechless and spellbound by the graciousness I see displayed all around me by people of all colors.

I have been blessed to visit the Holy City of Mecca. I have made my seven circuits around the Ka’ba, led by a young Mutawaf named Muhammad. I drank water from the well of the Zam Zam. I ran seven times back and forth between the hills of Mt. Al-Safa and Al-Marwah. I have prayed in the ancient city of Mina, and I have prayed on Mt. Arafat.

There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blonds to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and non-white.

America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. Throughout my travels in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who in America would have been considered ‘white’–but the ‘white’ attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam. I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors together, irrespective of their color.

  • Every year I read this letter during the Hajj season and every year I have a renewed zeal and love for my faith. Brother Malcolm, may Allah be pleased with him and grant him Jannah, was absolutely right. If people in America would stop the propaganda and examine the beauty of Islam we would truly have a much better country. I challenge any non-Muslim to go seek Islam for themselves and then make an informed, reasoned conclusion about this faith.

Russia withdraws from arms treaty

Russia has withdrawn from a key Cold War treaty setting limits on troops and weapons across Europe, but said there were no immediate plans for a major military build-up.

Moscow’s participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty was suspended from midnight in Moscow on Tuesday (2100 GMT), the Russian foreign ministry said.

In a statement, the ministry said: “Such a step has been caused by the exceptional circumstances connected to the content of the treaty which concern the security of Russia and demand that we take immediate measures.”

Russian troops can now be moved around the country without notifying Nato.

Nato members said they “deeply regret” the decision.

  • Ummm, this can’t be good…..that is all….

Ahmadinejad invited to hajj in Saudi: Iran ambassador

TEHRAN (AFP) — President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been invited to perform the hajj pilgrimage by Saudi King Abdullah, in another first for the Islamic republic’s leader, Iran’s ambassador to Riyadh announced on Wednesday.

“King Abdullah today invited President Ahmadinejad to take part in the pilgrimage to Mecca,” Mohammad Hosseini told the student news agency ISNA.

Hosseini said Ahmadinejad would travel to Saudi Arabia at the start of next week, without giving further details.

Ahmadinejad had told a news conference on Tuesday that he would perform the Muslim pilgrimage this year, if he was invited to Saudi Arabia by King Abdullah.

His media advisor Ali Akbar Javanfekr, who is already in Saudi Arabia, confirmed that the president had been invited to the annual pilgrimage to Islam’s holiest sites in Mecca and Medina, located in western Saudi Arabia.

“It is the first time in the history of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia that the king of this country invites a president of the Islamic republic to make the pilgrimage to Mecca,” he said.

  • This is a very significant development for those that pay attention to these types of things. Rather than sully the moment with some off color commentary, let us make Dua’ that Allah accept their Hajj and that the experience renews the spirit of brotherhood and fair dealing between Muslims.

Muslim helps Jews attacked on New York subway

NEW YORK (CNN) — A Muslim man jumped to the aid of three Jewish subway riders after they were attacked by a group of young people who objected to one of the Jews saying “Happy Hanukkah,” a spokeswoman for the three said Wednesday.

Friday’s altercation on the Q train began when somebody yelled out “Merry Christmas,” to which rider Walter Adler responded, “Happy Hanukkah,” said Toba Hellerstein.

“Almost immediately, you see the look in this guy’s face like I’ve called his mother something,” Adler told CNN affiliate WABC.

Two women who were with a group of 10 rowdy people then began to verbally assault Adler’s companions with anti-Semitic language, Hellerstein said.

One member of the group allegedly yelled, “Oh, Hanukkah. That’s the day that the Jews killed Jesus,” she said.

When Adler tried to intercede, a male member of the group punched him, she said.

Another passenger, Hassan Askari — a Muslim student from Bangladesh — came to Adler’s aid, and the group began physically and verbally assaulting him, Hellerstein said.

“A Muslim-American saved us when our own people were on the train and didn’t do anything,” Adler said.

  • Now this is the type of news that should be reported daily!!!! May Allah reward brother Hassan for doing the proper thing. Reports such as this fly right into the face of those who continually lie and report the myth that Muslims hate Jews, especially as a tenet of our religion. Throughout history, overwhelmingly Muslims and Jews enjoyed great relations that is until the last century. Either way, one act of courage and righteous can inspire the multitudes. Kudos to CNN for reporting this act of charity.

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